Claptone: The Definition of Musical Simplicity

This past Friday night, Claptone, along with support from Hermitude,  AFFKT and Rufus du Sol, enthralled Brooklyn with his mysterious, enigmatic, and yet energetic presence. Taking the main stage around 2:00am and playing well into the early hours of the morning, the deep house vibes were flowing. The beats included both familiar and contemporary songs from Claptone’s repertoire, along with a setting of energetic simplicity provided by the highly regarded Verboten Club in Williamsburg, supplemented the mood Claptone brings with his performance. This was my only experience with Claptone (having been through the generous uploads of his SoundCloud account), but I was nevertheless excited to see what kind of live performance the masked man of deep house threw down and I was far from disappointed.

Before I get to my fan-girling of Claptone’s performance, I cannot overstate the impressive opening performances of Hermitude and Rufus du Sol, as well as the closing set played by AFFKT. For one of the first times in what I still consider to be my fairly short EDM fandom, I was truly excited to see every single performer on a lineup. Rather than treating the openers as a kind of inevitable EDM purgatory, in which I’m forced to wait until I can hear the tunes that I’ve likely shelled out significant sums of money to hear, I actively embraced (and nonetheless, enjoyed) the opening performances on a level similar to that of the headliner.

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To be completely honest, I only came upon Rufus du Sol by way of this show. My experience with them is neither prolonged nor informed, though I can tell you that in the month or so in which I have been familiar with them, I’ve become a devoted fan. The trio, hailing from Sydney, Australia, blended live instrumentation with a 4/4 groove that is absolutely infectious from beginning to end. While I normally like to “rage” as much as the next guy, Rufus du Sol makes me look inwardly at the simple beauty of their music. Their track “Sundream” encapsulates just about every aspect I love about this group. Calm, collected, melodically beautiful and infused with just enough electronic energy to give the beat the buzz necessary to get your feet moving, Rufus du Sol has recruited a new fan with their latest performance, if not many more.

Now on to Claptone. Claptone has morphed into this ideological concept in my mind that may be incapable of wrong. Masked in mystery, there is a certain lack of a cult of personality that many other DJ’s and producer’s bring with them. (It could also be arguably said that the mask itself develops a cult of personality, apart from his music, but I’ll just ignore that argument). Further, what can only be described as intense focus on simplicity and art is reflected in his sets. I’m drawn to a discussion of Picasso’s Bull I recently read in the New York Times, in which the reporter was impressed by Picasso’s ability to filter out everything that was unnecessary in an image; to present, in ultimate simplicity, the idea and effect of an image without the unnecessary details. Claptone is like that, but with music.

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See the simplicity? Picasso goes over the lithograph over and over again, until all but the necessary has been removed, leaving the essential image of a bull.

(For instance, check out Claptone’s remix of the aforementioned “Sundream”).

Claptone’s set was replete with the feels I would expect to derive from someone who I hold in such high regard. From his newest remix, “Sirens of Lesbos – Long Days Hot Nights,” which is tearing up Beatport at the moment, to his older hits like “Wrong/Exploited.” Claptone lived up to his Picasso-ian expectations. His set can only be described as stripping all that which is necessary out of his sound and playing only that which makes you move (or more aptly, clap). When you focus on his work, you can parse out all of the individual pieces; the drum track, the bass, the fleeting synths and keyboards, and each individual track in the set, and you begin to realize that each piece plays an integral role in the entire set. By filtering out all but that which is necessary in his tunes, Claptone brings a level focus and intensity to this genre that I have rarely experienced. I suggest you check out a full set, such as his recent mix for his performance at the Full Moon Fest and maybe even take advantage of the free download.

AFFKT brought what could arguably be described as a funky feel to their set, closing the dance floor after Claptone’s set.  Playing some of their latest releases, like “Faceless” and “Twice,” AFFKT did not fail to impress. I look forward to hearing more from this dynamic duo of diverse, but deep, house.

Verboten was a great a venue as ever, and a great setting for these artists. Though the crowd didn’t seem to be able to find a spot to dance, and rather seemed more interested in drunkenly shoving their way through those who were trying to have a good time or screaming “OH MY GOD! WHERE’S BECKY,” this seems to be the increasingly inevitable necessary evil of seeing my favorite artists live. I was able to find some respite from the egocentrically ambling masses in what Verboten refers to as the Caberet Room, their more intimate bar and dance floor, ancillary to the Control Room, or Verboten’s main stage.

The only draw back was the lack of visibility of the DJ, though the visuals similar to what was shown in the Control Room, where ample. The only imaginable improvement of this set up would perhaps be replacing the visuals with a live feed of the DJ performing in the Control Room; this would effectively double the space and perhaps leave room for those who are interested in dancing and experiencing the show, rather than shoving other party-goers. Regardless, once you found your space, Verboten, with it’s legendary Martin Audio sound system artistic design and stellar lineup, met it’s continually established reputation.

Overall, this was at least an 8 out of 10 experience (once again, this number chosen at random based upon my feeling of what I’ve just written) and would absolutely return to both this club and these artists’ shows.

Alex Blake

Alex Blake

Passionate audiophile, shameless gourmand, and attorney, Alex is part of the NYC team holding it down for OTB on the East Coast.
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